Monday, April 17, 2017

I've Got A Little List - I've Got A Little List - Of Society Offenders Who Might Well Be Underground

Koko, The Lord High Executioner with his "little list"

 In 1885 Gilbert & Sullivan, those irreverent songsmiths took London by storm with THE MIKADO, set in old Japan but referring to the English political scene of the day ... sometimes quite nakedly. The tale of forbidden love, an art form as old as the ancient Greeks, it brought up some interesting comments about life in Victorian times and, as I am finding out, the 21st Century as well. In it, Gilbert and Sullivan expressed the frustration they and a goodly part of Victorian society felt about their quite stuffy government. Sound familiar?
   One of the great and famously funny songs in it was: "As Some Day It May happen" with these opening lyrics:

          I've got a little list — I've got a little list
          Of society offenders who might well be underground,
          And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
          As some day it may happen that a victim must be found ....

   In the last 24 hours I have found two "society offenders" who I am beginning to consider might well not be missed,  actually quite a record for me. The first was the post office, one of the first in the world created by Benjamin Franklin and now, well, put it this way, under Franklin heads would roll just like they were supposed to in THE MIKADO.

    I had to get a deed notarized and had a bill to pay my lawyer so after getting my signature notarized, I went to the Palm Springs Post Office to mail it with a Return Receipt Requested. I asked the clerk if I needed to send it, say Priority Mail, but he said no, it would arrive Monday, no later than Tuesday. It is only about 120 miles from Palm Springs to Century City in the heart of Los Angeles. Priority Mail is no great shakes either.
   I hung around all week just in case something else needed to be filled out. Still quiet on the western front I decided to go see the wild flowers in Joshua Tree National Park last Friday. No news is good news right? Wrong. Glancing at my email when I returned, it was now 5:30 pm and signals are non-existentent (at least for AT&T) in the park, I noticed one from my lawyer. It told me they had not received the letter I sent April 8th. The deed was due at their office no later than April 14th ... that day.
   I was furious and realized there wasn't anything I could do this evening but then pursued it on Saturday. Using the "receipt" tracking number I followed a letter that seemed to have taken the slow boat to China. They didn't even get around to delivering it until Saturday, a week later, a day the office was closed and there was no one to sign for it. Adding insult to injury they said they would either have to pick the letter up or arrange to have it re-delivered. 
   A late call this morning to my lawyer confirmed what I found online - still no letter. I drove over to my post office and a clerk helped me finally tracking down the post office it was delivered from and they wouldn't answer their phone.
   Trump may be a lot of things, few good to many but he IS right on one thing, our government is dysfunctional. You have legions of public servants that could care less. I can hear the howls now. But I ask you, public servant or not, how have you been treated by other public servants? Is it any wonder people do 80 - 90% of their letter writing online? Maybe some shouldn't, ask Hillary, but for most of us it is a reliable way to reach others. I don't know how much longer the post office can continue to exist. Lines are looooooong, everyday, there are few at the counter to help you, maybe none if its break time and while more expensive FedEx and UPS tend to be far more reliable. However, by this afternoon the letter was finally delivered.
What good is "Good paint at a good price" if there 
isn't anyone to mix it for you? I never got it.
    My other experience today was at Walmart. Everyone in the retail world is getting more and more upset with those of us who let our fingers do the walking at sites like Amazon. Just about every retailer in the United States is starting to close stores as the relenting fingers shop online and not at their stores. If their experience was like mine today at Walmart, good riddance.  
   I still have a little painting left to do. I found the color I wanted at Walmart and hot off chores, like going to the post office, decided to get the paint. Well, there was no one there. Walking nearly half the length of the store to find an employee I asked a clerk how to get someone in paint. He said he would page for me, and someone did.

This little piggy had empty shelves. Old home

week at the register though.
   Finally a lady showed up but she couldn't help me. "The lady you who does this must be at lunch. Are you done shopping?" I said, "This was all I wanted today." "She's probably at lunch but should be here in 10-15 minutes." Forty minutes later still no clerk. Walking the store it was like they were going out of business. The entire Apple and Microsoft sections were gutted. Want an iPad? A Surface ... you won't be getting them here. Instead everyone was busy chatting it up at their own register. Checking out the TV's half didn't work and those that did had the wrong information or none at all on them. Would you buy?
   Yes, there were many things in the store but it seemed that every clerk was shopping pushing laden carts around like a shopper. Its nice to restock shelves but customers are more important. Of course, no one knew anything and more than a few can not speak English.
  The irony of modern life is that the more we hear "You are important to us and someone will be with your shortly,"  shortly being 20-30-40 minutes on hold. There is less customer service today, not more.  Hence, I too have a list. I've already written about Target and it seems that Walmart is not far behind. I hear about their new web store but if its anything like it was online and is in their stores, Amazon will drive them out of the marketplace as well. To be fair, Amazon is not without flaws. Prime customers do not always get their items in two days. I am here to tell you about that as well!
Really? You need four people to stock 
a shelve? In my retailing days

we did it alone.
   I would hazard a guess and maybe a prediction, if customer service that we so often hear about isn't practiced as we're told it is (or as we all witnessed with United Airlines) there are going to be a lot of people without work. Two great forces are colliding at the same time in the retail industry ... online shopping and companies, like Amazon who are increasingly doing the fulfillment of orders in their warehouses with robots. Are sales positions next? I know for sure I wouldn't want to be a taxi driver. 
   We as a society need to reexamine our work ethic and employees need to hold their bosses accountable for the work they do, and vice versa, just as do stock holders need to hold the companies they own stock in accountable. We are at the beginning of a robotic age and we need to prepare for it. 
   It has been talked about, written about and studied as well as proven. The way to survive in the age of Walmart and even Amazon is to provide outstanding service to their customers. It takes 85% more time and effort to get a new customer than it does to keep a regular one happy. You can argue this all you want but it was true 50 years ago and it is true today.
   One more word to the wise ... if you are a shop owner, service provider of any service, greet whoever walks in the door or answer your phone. You don't have to follow customers around like a puppy dog, but acknowledge them and be ready to help them when it is clear they need some help. Get off your phone, chatting or texting. Tend to the business at hand. A bird in hand beats two in the bush!!!

Thank you for reading my blog. I invite you to take the time to read earlier blogs where the emphasis here is to explore the ways art and design affects our daily lives ... and always has. I share with you what inspires me with the hope that it will inspire you as well. Comments are always welcomed! Be sure to check my re-opened ETSY store ...

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